14 Apr 2022


Researched Argument Rough Draft

Format: APA

Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

Words: 795

Pages: 3

Downloads: 0

Does the internet make people smarter?

The question in this case is whether the internet is making people smarter or dumber. Nick Carr whose recent publication ‘The Shallows’ argues that the internet is making people less attentive and less intelligent whereas another book by Clay Shirky titled ‘Cognitive Surplus’ indicates that the internet is an essential thing for both the society and individuals. The issue on who wins the debate lies arguably on the readers to find worthwhile points as presented in the publications by the two authors. The paper will therefore analyze both sides presented in Shirky’s ‘Cognitive Surplus’ and Carr’s “The Shallows’ publications on ‘Does the Internet Make people Smarter or Dumber.’

Carr’s arguments are more pointed, as he cites scientific studies to indicate the brains of multitasking users of the internet alter as a result of their character traits and alludes that such changes are rendering people less intelligent in regards to the definition of the term. Among other things, they are defined to be weaker in “higher-order cognitive processes” for instance “reflection, mindfulness, imagination and critical thinking” (Carr, 2010 p25). However, the manner in which someone measures mindfulness or reflection is not clear according to the book. The shallow and scattered thinking of internet users is compared with the virtues of book reading, since Carr notes that the drafted page “promotes contemplativeness” (Carr, 2010 p28).

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Shirky’s publication contains less obvious research in it but a rather detailed impressionistic perspective on the role digital media is playing to people in the society. His major point is that a tool similar to the internet, in relation to its close relatives in disruption, the Gutenberg printing press, comes with the good and the bad. He further adds that the two cannot unnecessarily be unraveled from each other. The increased freedom in the creation the internet brings with it, Shirky indicates “means increased freedom to create throwaway material’ in addition to freedom to indulge in the experimentation that eventually makes the good new stuff possible” (Shirky, 2011 p32). Shirky fundamentally argues that people will become smarter as a community, if not individually. 

Carr concludes that the internet not only makes people stupid, in an exclusive interview, he remarks that despite the availability of benefits to the current digital era of media consumption, it will make individuals less interesting because people would not be having contemplative moments. Paul Kedrosky’s essay at The Edge over the benefits of the internet on his process of thinking argues that whereas he is concerned about the effect of the internet on his ability to think deeply, it was on the balance a positive thing. He further states the internet permits for more “connections and collisions” between notions and ideas some of which led to new ones. He writes “The democratization of collisions, connections, and therefore thinking is considered historically unprecedented. We are the first generation to have the information equivalent of the Large Hadron Collider for ideas. And if that does not change the way individuals think, nothing will” (Kedrosky, 2013 np). 

A person who has spent much time on the internet, more so using sites such as Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms can probably sympathize with Carr’s comments over how he has felt himself becoming diverted ephemeral things, less deep and less stressed. The notion that multitasking is intrinsically impossible is an attractive one. The named three authors of the books are simply challenging people to become smarter in new ways. To the extent that individuals want to analyze all the sides of the argument, the argument debate stands that both sides have some instances of reality. Technological experts have over the years argued that to the extent that people around the globe want to use the internet tools to become more intelligent, they are doing so (Carr, 2011). Nonetheless, it is also argued that the same tools and platforms can also as easily render people less informed and dumber, similar to the telephone, television, or any other related technology, such as books and other educational materials. 

Therefore, the paper did an analysis of the argument ‘Does the internet make people smarter or dumber’ as presented in Shirky’s ‘Cognitive Surplus’ and Carr’s ‘The Shallows’ publications. Due to the changing technological aspects around the globe, the internet is currently widely used in almost all parts of the world. Many people have turned to the internet for business purposes, education, socializing, and many other things. Fundamentally, many people around the globe have access to the internet through their mobile phones and computers. Shirky’s argument is widely considered a reality as compared to Carr’s.

It is essential to note that usage of the internet has made life easier because individuals have access to information on issues that take place thousands of miles away just by the click of a button. Some universities and other educational institutions have turned to the internet to offer learning facilities to thousands of students across the world. It is therefore upon the readers of the books to determine whether the internet make people smarter or dumber. Both side of the argument have advantages and disadvantages because the authors are trying to prove their points and therefore gain a soft spot. In this regard, the essay treats both sides of the argument equally. 


Carr, N. G. (2010). The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains . New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Kedrosky, P. (2013). How Is the internet changing the way we think? New York. The Edge.

Shirky, C. (2011). Cognitive surplus: Creativity and generosity in a connected age . London: Penguin.

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